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OFFICIAL HISTORY: ITS PITFALLS AND CRITERIA
the expense of a certain quality. It must be remembered,
however, that it is officialdom which makes the difficulties
in,, regard to these matters, and which made its protests
even twenty-five years ago, if we may judge from letters
to The Times. Officialdom indeed always had its
reasons for not wanting this kind of material to* be
published; but the interesting fact is that twenty-five
years ago the interests of the historian were allowed to
prevail. All things considered, we must scrutinise
carefully any reasons that may be presented to us for not
printing at the present day those minutes that come at a
high level, or whatever may nowadays be their equiv-
alent. And if at the finish there may be factors which
render impracticable the publication of the materials
in which a Foreign Office most gives itself away, we
must at any rate be aware how the absence of these
materials affects the historiography of the subject with
which we may be dealing, and conditions any attempt
that we make to reconstruct the story of a policy. It
is the significance of this last point—and not a disposition
to be ungrateful for what is in any case granted to us—
that ought to guide our discussions of this matter.

The importance of the higher permanent officials of
the Foreign Office is now accepted'as a matter of common
knowledge; and it has often been noted to what a
degree a Foreign Secretary is in their hands. It has
even been said that if the permanent officials cannot
force their policy on a Foreign Secretary, at any rate
they are strong enough to prevent him from carrying
out any other policy of his own. The documents that
would enable us to form an opinion on this matter would

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